The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 19, 2003

Statement by the Press Secretary

Hong Kong's Legislative Council Is in the final stages of considering internal security legislation mandated by Article 23 of the territory's Basic Law. A final vote may occur as soon as early July. The United States has concerns that Article 23 legislation, as currently drafted, could harm local freedoms and autonomy over time. Especially worrisome are provisions mandating the proscription of certain kinds of popular organizations and the absence of a "public interest" defense to protect freedom of expression and the press. The United States urges Hong Kong's Legislative Council to adopt amendments to correct these shortcomings.

Hong Kong's special status, endorsed by the United States under the Hong Kong Policy Act, depends on the local authorities' protection of human and civil rights and preservation of the territory's autonomy. The United States opposes any law that threatens the territory's unique identity, including the current version of Article 23 legislation.

The controversy surrounding the legislation underlines the importance of Hong Kong's move toward full participatory democracy. Like Article 23, universal suffrage is enshrined in the Basic Law, and Hong Kong's leaders should now pursue it with equal industry.

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